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Viscri – The Transylvanian village that charmed Prince Charles

Deep in the heart of Transylvania lies a village, a village lost in time where life is lived like in the old days. The name of this village is Viscri and it went directly to the heard of Price Charles of Wales. This summer we decided to stay in Viscri for one weekend. One weekend in a medieval village that lays in the middle of Romania, in Transylvania, rounded by green hills, meadows, beech and oak forests just like in a fairy-tale. The history of this village goes back in time to 1231 when Germanic refugees settled here and formed a small village, around a fortified church. The main activity of the peasants was agriculture. The beauty of this place, untouched nature, traditions and people that still live here like in the old days, make anyone fall in love with this place How to reach Viscri Being a small village in…

Nedeea Valceana – Brutally Beautiful

There is a place in Romania where nature has managed to stay unspoiled by civilization, where a whirling river is flowing through spectacular gorges, and its banks boast with centuries-old churches and many spas. The Olt Valley is one of the most spectacular and beautiful areas in Romania, between Căpăţânii, Lotru and Făgăraş mountains. Not far from Olt River there is a medieval village called Odai (Chambers) –  where you can only walk or ride. In the Early Middle Ages because of the many invaders, and also because the narrow valley of the Olt did not allow enough agricultural land for the people, the locals from this region climbed into the Lotru mountains. Here, in the heart of the mountain, at over 800 meters altitude, on all the slopes that had a southern opening to the sunlight, people established the small village called Odai. The village’s name identifies with his…

Gura Portiţei – a piece of heaven in Danube Delta 

Although I visited a huge part of Romania, I have never reached Gura Portiţei. This area consists of more fishing villages lived by Lipovans. What are Lipovans? Lipovans are mostly Russians who settled in the Danube area, in Romania. They migrated from Russia in the 18th century, when the Patriarch Nikon changed the Russian Orthodox Church rules in 1652. They refused the new changes and carried on worshiping in the “old ways”. In that sense, they continued to speak Old Russian language, kept their beards and worship ideas. The Russian government and the Orthodox Church persecuted them, and as a result, some committed suicide by burning themselves, and many other being forced to emigrate. They settled along the Prut River in Moldavia and in the Danube Delta. They have maintained strong religious traditions of the Old Russian Orthodox Church. How do they look like? They are tall, bony with long beards, light eyebrows and cold blue…

Romanian Road Trip from Bucharest to Maramures

At first glance, you might think that Romania doesn’t have too much to offer. This was my first thought too, and then I started to discover little by little this amazing country. This year, for the 1st of May break, we decided to go to Maramures. If you are looking for a vacation where you can experience the Authentic, Natural and Cultural, then this is the right choice. A trip to Romania can for sure offer you countless unique travel experiences, ones maybe forgotten in Western Europe. Especially, because you can have beautiful road tfrom the  Unique Danube Delta to a beautiful, intact, medieval town in Transylvania; from Bucharest to the Black Sea with its sun-kissed beaches; from Southern Transylvania to  Bucovina or Maramures. Or to a step back in time as you visit one of the world’s famous painted monasteries in Bucovina, the ancient, hilltop citadel in Sighisoara or an…

Turda Salt Mine | One of the coolest underground places in the world

Salt has been known to be a valuable commodity that people used to kill for in the past. In those days only rich people would have salt on their table, as it used to be very expensive because it was brought from far away. Besides cuisine, salt is used in in medicine, cosmetics and much more. In Romania there are many salt mines. Some of them are still active, some are closed for mining but used as treatment centers and museums.Turda Salt Mine is the most famous one. It is placed in Turda city, not far from Cluj-Napoca, in the north-east of Romania. This mine is very old. The digging was started by the Romans. Since the 13th century till 1932 the mine was active. Between 1932 and 1992 it was closed, and when it was reopened to the public for visits and for medical purposes: the air in the…

Corund | The village of old crafts

The third day of our Romanian Road Trip came up and found us in western Harghita County, in the city of Praid, famous for its salt mine. After a morning visit in the salt mine, we went 11 km away, to Corund village. It is a national treasure and we were so impressed with the place and with the old crafts that we saw here. I discovered this place by coincidence when I was looking for interesting places to see close to Praid city.Anyway, once I found out about the village I called Zoltan Pal, which is the representative of Corund-Praid Protected Areas Custody, to help us visit the village and discover everything that it has to offer. And it offers a lot. You can find more things and tours in Corund here: https://www.korpa.ro/ro/ecoturism/promenada-la-corund/ and here: www.slowtours.travel.com There are many ways to discover the treasures of this amazing village but the…

Barsana | The beautiful wooden Monastery from Maramures

After we visited the Merry Cemetery, we continued our road trip to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Romania: Barsana Monastery. The Barsana village is situated in the valley of the Iza River in Maramures. It is well known for the Monastery that incorporates a wooden church that dates back to 1391. The Barsana Monastery church is one of the tallest wooden churches in Romania, having 57m in height, and it is a Unesco World Heritage site. In 1717, during a Tatar invasion, the old church was destroyed, and it was rebuilt later, in 1720. We climbed the hill in front of the parking lot up to the Monastery. After about 100m we arrived at the main entrance of the Monastery, at the tower-Bell. We entered the place from under the tower, beyond which, on the right side, the church appeared like sprawling towards the sky. Until recently it was…

Discovering the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta

On the second day of our Romanian Road Trip, after we had an awesome train ride in Mocanita, we drove about 80 km to Sapanta village to see this surprising, Merry Cemetery. When I say “cemetery,” what do you picture? Is your picture fairly dark; morose; depressing? Especially because, in Western culture, death is usually a dark, morose, and depressing subject… well, not the Merry Cemetery. It has a very unique claim to fame. This cemetery is unlike any I have ever seen; in fact, it’s unlike any other cemetery in the world. Here, instead of the usual boring stone grave markers and marble mausoleums that populate just about every other graveyard in the world, each plot is adorned with a colorfully-painted wooden cross, with a poem for a epitaph. The cemetery is just behind the Church of the Assumption in this small town of 5,000 (living) souls in northern Romania. It is…

Mocanita | A ride on the last steam forestry train in Europe

On the second day of our Road Trip, we went to Viseu de Sus, which is a small village in Maramures area to ride the Mocanita train. “Wood” and “water” are two words that best define Maramureş. The history, traditions and life of the people in Maramures are carved in the wood of the churches and gates, and numerous rivers and streams are spread along the land like a cobweb, forming famous valleys: Mara, Iza, Viseu, and Vaser. Among these, the Vaser Valley is of special interest for tourists. It crosses the Maramures Mountains in the middle of one of the wildest and most beautiful landscapes in Romania. The Vaser River is about 60 kilometers long, forming a spectacular canyon-like valley, where precipitous cliffs alternate with dense forests, beautiful clearings and mineral water springs. Here you can find a steam train called Mocanita that climbs the beautiful roadless Vaser valley…